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TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + writer + play + plays/theory + death + sex + family + generations + wrong subjects + [ 0 ] [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ]
Fall 2003: Modern Drama: Selected Plays from 1879 to the Present Walter Levy, Pace University ISBN: 0-13-226721-7 Prentice Hall Paper; 985 pp Published: 10/21/1998


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Before this and next Chekhov chapter, read pomo and 413notes. The postmodernist theories in good books are cosidered as a new methodology of analysis, but you read my nonfiction (Self, POV, Tech), you know that I take POMO philosophies much more serious -- we live in those postmodern conditions. If not even in post-pomo conditions. Why it's so important? I use theory for practical needs (directing) and therefore PM analysis of Chekhov has to be projected within the production like 3 Sisters. I have to bridge my (our) world with his, the present with the past, I have to get over historicuty without losing historical.

Read Theatre Theory files in Part III. Script & Spectator

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Theatre Theory

JT Michigan quarterly review
DA Fall 2000 v 39 n 4
PG 796
AU Rich, Elisabeth T. Chekhov and the Moscow Stage Today: Interviews with Leading Russian Theater Directors.

Spring 2003: Don Juan - Biomechanics & Comedy
Spring 2002: Dangerous Liaisons & Realism & Method eGroup
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Besides the show, please check the Method Acting pages; many aspects of the Chekhov's drama could be seen differently in the light of the psychological realism, according to Stanislavsky. The practical issue -- Method Acting needs another wave of rethinking from the Century 21 Bridge (The Third Wave?)
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Chekhov Corner link

Summary

Chekhov: Critics are like horse-flies which hinder the horses in their ploughing of the soil. The muscles of the horse are as taut as fiddle-strings, and suddenly a horse-fly alights on its croup, buzzing and stinging. The horse's skin quivers, it waves its tail. What is the fly buzzing about? It probably doesn't know itself. It simply has a restless nature and wants to make itself felt — "I'm alive, too, you know!" it seems to say. "Look, I know how to buzz, there's nothing I can't buzz about!" I've been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can't remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice. The only reviewer who ever made an impression on me was Skabichevsky, who prophesied that I would die drunk in the bottom of a ditch. — Quoted by Maxim Gorky in "Anton Chekhov," On Literature

Questions

Great site: Chekhov!

Notes

The Three Sisters is a play, written in 1900 and first produced in 1901, by Russian author Anton Chekhov. Four young people - Olga, Masha, Irina and Andrei Prozorov - are left stranded in a provincial backwater after the death of their father, an army general. They focus their dreams on returning to Moscow, a city remembered through the eyes of childhood as a place where happiness is possible. TRIVIA * Vivien Leigh ended her career in triumph in the 1966 in New York staging in Anton Chekhov's play Ivanov.

Vanessa Redgrave appeared as Nina in Sidney Lumet's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Sea Gull (1968).

German theater director Peter Stein, the artistic director of the politically radical Berlin Schaubühne, included in his final productions for the Schaubühne Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters (1984).

French film director Louis Malle's last film, Vanya on 42nd Street (1994), follows a rehearsal in New York City of Uncle Vanya, a play by Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. Starring the same two principle actors of My Dinner with André, Vanya on 42nd Street blurs the distinction between life and theatrical performance.

British stage and motion picture actor Sir Anthony Hopkins directed, scored, and starred in 1996 the film August, an adaptation of the play Uncle Vanya.

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When you fashion a story you necessarily concern yourself with its limits: out of slew of main and secondary characters you choose only one — the wife or the husband — place him against the background and describe him alone and therefore also emphasize him, while you scatter the others in the background like small change, and you get something like the night sky: a single large moon and a slew of very small stars. But the moon doesn't turn out right because you can see it only when the other stars are visible too, but the stars aren't set off. So I turn out a sort of patchwork quilt rather than literature. What can I do? I simply don't know. I will simply depend on all-healing time. — To Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888

Chekhov - Love Letters

Four by Chekhov:

The Seagull

Three Sisters

The Cherry Orchard

Uncle Vanya

"Small Chekhov":

Wedding & More

Boor

Virtual 3 Sisters

The Chekhov Theatre; A Century of the Plays in Performance -- Laurence Senelick £19.95 * April 2000 | Paperback (Hardback) | 458 pages 51 half-tones | ISBN: 052178395X

4 plays Russian/English

2005: Total Acting & Total Directing *
There are several Chekhov's one-act comedies I use for class projects in my acting-directing projects (finals): Wedding, On the High Road, Proposal, Bear. [public domain] ...


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POMO Chekhov

He qualified as a doctor in 1884 although he rarely practised. In his hundreds of stories and novellas, which he wrote while practicing medicine, Chekhov adopts something of a clinical approach to ordinary life.

After a successful production of The Seagull by the Moscow Art Theatre, he wrote three more plays for the same company: Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. In 1901 he married Olga Leonardovna Knipper (1870-1959), an actress who performed in his plays.

The movement toward Naturalism in theatre that was sweeping Europe reached its highest artistic peak in Russia in 1898 with the formation of the Moscow Art Theatre (later called the Moscow Academy Art Theatre). Its name became synonymous with that of Chekhov, whose plays about the day-to-day life of the landed gentry achieved a delicate poetic realism that was years ahead of its time. Konstantin Stanislavsky, its director, became the 20th century's most influential theorist on acting.

Chekhov died of tuberculosis and is now buried in Novodevichy Cemetery.

"Chekhov's plays and short stories are considered seminal steps on the path to modern literature, mostly because they dote on the ordinary details and the vernacular landscape of the human soul. In addition, the writer - who trained as a physician - respected precision, and he created a compact, compressed form of storytelling that prefigures the absurdism of Samuel Beckett and the minimalism of Raymond Carver." Jacob Stockinger, Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey By Janet Malcolm, Random House 212 pages, $23.95

...

Chekhov after Beckett. Shestov's book "From the Void": Existentialism and Absurd. Chekhov destroys the fundation of the "Russian Soul" -- not just hope but the capacity "to hope" (anti-Russian writer, according to Shestov).
Chekhov's talant is the Russian curse: he is about to end Russian literature.

Major Schools of Thought in the 20th century. Mostmodern thinkers -- Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Virilio, Buadrillard -- and Chekhov.

Old schools -- Hegel, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche.

During the Perestroyka the Moscow Art Theatre got slip in two -- Gorky MAT (new building) and Chekhov MAT (old building, the original).

From 3 Sisters Forum:
Contemtorary connotations (director's diaries).

Vershinin-Clinton, a good guy, who has no idea what he is talking about. "The road to hell is built on good wishes" (Dante). Vershinin is a epythomy of all of them -- the dreamers.

Are we responsible for our dreams? We do not know how to dream!

We are terrorized by the past (Freud) and we try to escape into the future: we skip the present.

Russian language doesn't have many grammatical terms as English (time-oriented language). there are only three basic tenses -- the Russian Mind is space-oriented; this is why each word is locked into sentense -- prefix and ending allow you to move any word (you can see it in my English).

Now, how do Russians can deal with the future, when they have no apparatus to comprehand it?

Americans have no respect for space -- highways are the space denounciation. If they can't escape the space limitations horizontally, they build their roads upward -- skyscapers, vertical villages, alone the main street evelators.

Europe has no numerical names for its avenues -- only in America!

What about the Three Sisters?

The end of the play is the end of SPACE -- no place for them -- they entered The American Age of Time. They don't know how to live in space which is time. Only we know how to build home-pages in cyber-space, which is time, not real "space." The 3 Sisters discussion list doesn't exist in space. Like our dreams, hopes, wishes. "American Dream" is in time-space, not space-space. (There is a chapter on time-production in my Post-America book).

I promised to post my directior's diaries and I have no time to do it...

Remember the two curtain calls -- Bergson wrote a good book on time and memory; he linked the two -- time asks for memory.

"Remember-me" is Alaskan State flower. This is the end of the play. "Remember-me"... FORGET-ME-NOT...

[from the director's notebook]

Chekhov
Cherry Orchard (elements of Chekhov's exposition)

ACT ONE

A room which is still called the nursery. One of the doors leads into ANYA'S room. It is close on sunrise. It is May. The cherry-trees are in flower but it is chilly in the garden. There is an early frost. The windows of the room are shut. DUNYASHA comes in with a candle, and LOPAKHIN with a book in his hand.

LOPAKHIN. The train's arrived, thank God. What's the time?

DUNYASHA. It will soon be two. [Blows out candle] It is light already.

LOPAKHIN. How much was the train late? Two hours at least. [Yawns and stretches himself] I have made a rotten mess of it! I came here on purpose to meet them at the station, and then overslept myself . . . in my chair. It's a pity. I wish you'd wakened me.

DUNYASHA. I thought you'd gone away. [Listening] I think I hear them coming.

LOPAKHIN. [Listens] No. . . . They've got to collect their luggage and so on. . . . [Pause] Lubov Andreyevna has been living abroad for five years; I don't know what she'll be like now. . . . She's a good sort--an easy, simple person. I remember when I was a boy of fifteen, my father, who is dead--he used to keep a shop in the village here--hit me on the face with his fist, and my nose bled. . . . We had gone into the yard together for something or other, and he was a little drunk. Lubov Andreyevna, as I remember her now, was still young, and very thin, and she took me to the washstand here in this very room, the nursery. She said, "Don't cry, little man, it'll be all right in time for your wedding." [Pause] "Little man". . . . My father was a peasant, it's true, but here I am in a white waistcoat and yellow shoes . . . a pearl out of an oyster. I'm rich now, with lots of money, but just think about it and examine me, and you'll find I'm still a peasant down to the marrow of my bones. [Turns over the pages of his book] Here I've been reading this book, but I understood nothing. I read and fell asleep. [Pause.]

DUNYASHA. The dogs didn't sleep all night; they know that they're coming.

LOPAKHIN. What's up with you, Dunyasha . . . ?

DUNYASHA. My hands are shaking. I shall faint.

LOPAKHIN. You're too sensitive, Dunyasha. You dress just like a lady, and you do your hair like one too. You oughtn't. You should know your place.

EPIKHODOV. [Enters with a bouquet. He wears a short jacket and brilliantly polished boots which squeak audibly. He drops the bouquet as he enters, then picks it up] The gardener sent these; says they're to go into the dining-room. [Gives the bouquet to DUNYASHA.]

LOPAKHIN. And you'll bring me some kvass.

DUNYASHA. Very well. [Exit.]

EPIKHODOV. There's a frost this morning--three degrees, and the cherry-trees are all in flower. I can't approve of our climate. [Sighs] I can't. Our climate is indisposed to favour us even this once. And, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, allow me to say to you, in addition, that I bought myself some boots two days ago, and I beg to assure you that they squeak in a perfectly unbearable manner. What shall I put on them?

LOPAKHIN. Go away. You bore me.

EPIKHODOV. Some misfortune happens to me every day. But I don't complain; I'm used to it, and I can smile. [DUNYASHA comes in and brings LOPAKHIN some kvass] I shall go. [Knocks over a chair] There. . . . [Triumphantly] There, you see, if I may use the word, what circumstances I am in, so to speak. It is even simply marvellous. [Exit.]

DUNYASHA. I may confess to you, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that Epikhodov has proposed to me.

LOPAKHIN. Ah!

DUNYASHA. I don't know what to do about it. He's a nice young man, but every now and again, when he begins talking, you can't understand a word he's saying. I think I like him. He's madly in love with me. He's an unlucky man; every day something happens. We tease him about it. They call him "Two-and-twenty troubles."

LOPAKHIN. [Listens] There they come, I think.

DUNYASHA. They're coming! What's the matter with me? I'm cold all over.

LOPAKHIN. There they are, right enough. Let's go and meet them. Will she know me? We haven't seen each other for five years.

DUNYASHA. [Excited] I shall faint in a minute. . . . Oh, I'm fainting!

Two carriages are heard driving up to the house. LOPAKHIN and DUNYASHA quickly go out. The stage is empty. A noise begins in the next room. FIERS, leaning on a stick, walks quickly across the stage; he has just been to meet LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. He wears an old-fashioned livery and a tall hat. He is saying something to himself, but not a word of it can be made out. The noise behind the stage gets louder and louder. A voice is heard: "Let's go in there." Enter LUBOV ANDREYEVNA, ANYA, and CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA with a little dog on a chain, and all dressed in travelling clothes, VARYA in a long coat and with a kerchief on her head. GAEV, SIMEONOV-PISCHIN, LOPAKHIN, DUNYASHA with a parcel and an umbrella, and a servant with luggage --all cross the room.

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ChekhovNow is a sort of the "Chekhov5"... "Current Chekhov" or should I dare to say -- Chekhov of Tomorrow?

General analysis of Time and Space analysis in Themes!

Action? Could an emotion be the subject of ACTION? (Poetry?) Thought as Action (story). Compare with the Character as Story (Character-oriented plays; other examples).

[ Where are the notes on "Seagull"? ]

Homework

Select one monologue for in-class-analysis. Sample:

IVANOV: I used to have a workman called Simon, you remember him. Once, at threshing time, to show the girls how strong he was, he loaded himself with two sacks of rye, and broke his back. He died soon after. I think I have broken my back also. First I went to school, then to the university, then came the cares of this estate, all my plans--I did not believe what others did; did not marry as others did; I worked passionately, risked everything; no one else, as you know, threw their money away to right and left as I did. So I heaped the burdens on my back, and it broke. We are all heroes at twenty, ready to attack anything, to do everything, and at thirty are worn-out, useless men. Only a man equally miserable and suffering, as Paul is, could love or esteem me now. Good God! How I loathe myself! How bitterly I hate my voice, my hands, my thoughts, these clothes, each step I take! How ridiculous it is, how disgusting! Less than a year ago I was healthy and strong, full of pride and energy and enthusiasm. I worked with these hands here, and my words could move the dullest man to tears. I could weep with sorrow, and grow indignant at the sight of wrong. I could feel the glow of inspiration, and understand the beauty and romance of the silent nights which I used to watch through from evening until dawn, sitting at my work-table, and giving my soul up to dreams. I believed in a bright future then, and looked into it as trustfully as a child looks into its mothers eyes. And now ... oh, I am tired and without hope; I spend my days and nights in idleness; I have no control over my feet and brain. My estate is ruined, my woods are falling under the blows of the axe. And what can I think of my treatment of Sarah? I promised her love and happiness forever; I opened her eyes to the promise of a future such as she had never dreamed of. She believed me, and though for five years I have seen her sinking under the weight of her sacrifices to me, and losing her strength in her struggles with her conscience, God knows she has never given me one angry look, or uttered one word of reproach. What is the result? That I don't love her! She is suffering; her days are numbered; yet I fly like a contemptible coward from her white face, her sunken chest, her pleading eyes. What is the matter with me? I can't understand it. The easiest way out would be a bullet through the head!
[ IVANOV, A monologue from the play by Anton Chekhov. This translation by Marian Fell was first published in 1912 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties. ]

[As usual 200 words must be posted after the reading of Chekhov's play.]

NB

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Next: 3 Sisters
[ Translated by Julius West, 1916 From: Plays, by Anton Tchekoff. 2d series, tr. with an introduction by Julius West. New York, Scribner's, 1917. 277 p. 20 cm. CONTENTS: On the high road.--The proposal.-The wedding.--The bear.--A tragedian in spite of himself.--The anniversary.--The three sisters.--The cherry orchard. ]
ASTROFF. Have I changed much since then?

MARINA. Oh, yes. You were handsome and young then, and now you are an old man and not handsome any more. You drink, too.

ASTROFF. Yes, ten years have made me another man. And why? Because I am overworked. Nurse, I am on my feet from dawn till dusk. I know no rest; at night I tremble under my blankets for fear of being dragged out to visit some one who is sick; I have toiled without repose or a day's freedom since I have known you; could I help growing old? And then, existence is tedious, anyway; it is a senseless, dirty business, this life, and goes heavily. Every one about here is silly, and after living with them for two or three years one grows silly oneself. It is inevitable. [Twisting his moustache] See what a long moustache I have grown. A foolish, long moustache. Yes, I am as silly as the rest, nurse, but not as stupid; no, I have not grown stupid. Thank God, my brain is not addled yet, though my feelings have grown numb. I ask nothing, I need nothing, I love no one, unless it is yourself alone. [He kisses her head] I had a nurse just like you when I was a child.

MARINA. Don't you want a bite of something to eat?

ASTROFF. No. During the third week of Lent I went to the epidemic at Malitskoi. It was eruptive typhoid. The peasants were all lying side by side in their huts, and the calves and pigs were running about the floor among the sick. Such dirt there was, and smoke! Unspeakable! I slaved among those people all day, not a crumb passed my lips, but when I got home there was still no rest for me; a switchman was carried in from the railroad; I laid him on the operating table and he went and died in my arms under chloroform, and then my feelings that should have been deadened awoke again, my conscience tortured me as if I had killed the man. I sat down and closed my eyes--like this--and thought: will our descendants two hundred years from now, for whom we are breaking the road, remember to give us a kind word? No, nurse, they will forget.

[ Uncle Vanya: find the elements of postmodern ]

...

"While a family eats dinner, their lives are collapsing."

January 17, 1904 -- Anton Chekhov's "Cherry Orchard" opens at Moscow Art Theater

[ subjects : inforum guestguests folderfolders dictglossary bookBedford * Craft * Art * Theory * Write ]

...In Checkov's tragi-comedy - perhaps his most popular play - the Gayev family is torn by powerful forces deeply rooted in history and the society in which they live. Their estate is hopelessly in debt and when urged to cut down their beautiful cherry orchard and sell the land for holiday cottages, they are confronted by an impossible decision. "At the time when The Cherry Orchard was written, the years before the revolution of 1905, Chekhov considered revolution in Russia irreversible and desirable." (Melchinger: Anton Checkov) -- from The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, Michael Frayn (trans)

...

to web-direct?

Exposition -- Seagull

ACT I

The scene is laid in the park on SORIN'S estate. A broad avenue of trees leads away from the audience toward a lake which lies lost in the depths of the park. The avenue is obstructed by a rough stage, temporarily erected for the performance of amateur theatricals, and which screens the lake from view. There is a dense growth of bushes to the left and right of the stage. A few chairs and a little table are placed in front of the stage. The sun has just set. JACOB and some other workmen are heard hammering and coughing on the stage behind the lowered curtain.

MASHA and MEDVIEDENKO come in from the left, returning from a walk.

MEDVIEDENKO Why do you always wear mourning?

MASHA I dress in black to match my life. I am unhappy.

MEDVIEDENKO Why should you be unhappy? [Thinking it over] I don't understand it. You are healthy, and though your father is not rich, he has a good competency. My life is far harder than yours. I only have twenty-three roubles a month to live on, but I don't wear mourning. [They sit down].

MASHA Happiness does not depend on riches; poor men are often happy.

MEDVIEDENKO In theory, yes, but not in reality. Take my case, for instance; my mother, my two sisters, my little brother and I must all live somehow on my salary of twenty-three roubles a month. We have to eat and drink, I take it. You wouldn't have us go without tea and sugar, would you? Or tobacco? Answer me that, if you can.

MASHA [Looking in the direction of the stage] The play will soon begin.

MEDVIEDENKO Yes, Nina Zarietchnaya is going to act in Treplieff's play. They love one another, and their two souls will unite to-night in the effort to interpret the same idea by different means. There is no ground on which your soul and mine can meet. I love you. Too restless and sad to stay at home, I tramp here every day, six miles and back, to be met only by your indifference. I am poor, my family is large, you can have no inducement to marry a man who cannot even find sufficient food for his own mouth.

MASHA It is not that. [She takes snuff] I am touched by your affection, but I cannot return it, that is all. [She offers him the snuff-box] Will you take some?

MEDVIEDENKO No, thank you. [A pause.]

MASHA The air is sultry; a storm is brewing for to-night. You do nothing but moralise or else talk about money. To you, poverty is the greatest misfortune that can befall a man, but I think it is a thousand times easier to go begging in rags than to-- You wouldn't understand that, though.

3sisters
Finale (Act IV) -- Seagull

TREPLIEFF I have talked a great deal about new forms of art, but I feel myself gradually slipping into the beaten track. [He reads] "The placard cried it from the wall--a pale face in a frame of dusky hair"--cried--frame--that is stupid. [He scratches out what he has written] I shall begin again from the place where my hero is wakened by the noise of the rain, but what follows must go. This description of a moonlight night is long and stilted. Trigorin has worked out a process of his own, and descriptions are easy for him. He writes that the neck of a broken bottle lying on the bank glittered in the moonlight, and that the shadows lay black under the mill-wheel. There you have a moonlight night before your eyes, but I speak of the shimmering light, the twinkling stars, the distant sounds of a piano melting into the still and scented air, and the result is abominable. [A pause] The conviction is gradually forcing itself upon me that good literature is not a question of forms new or old, but of ideas that must pour freely from the author's heart, without his bothering his head about any forms whatsoever. [A knock is heard at the window nearest the table] What was that? [He looks out of the window] I can't see anything. [He opens the glass door and looks out into the garden] I heard some one run down the steps. [He calls] Who is there? [He goes out, and is heard walking quickly along the terrace. In a few minutes he comes back with NINA ZARIETCHNAYA] Oh, Nina, Nina!

NINA lays her head on TREPLIEFF'S breast and stifles her sobs.

TREPLIEFF [Deeply moved] Nina, Nina! It is you--you! I felt you would come; all day my heart has been aching for you. [He takes off her hat and cloak] My darling, my beloved has come back to me! We mustn't cry, we mustn't cry.

NINA There is some one here.

TREPLIEFF No one is here.

NINA Lock the door, some one might come.

TREPLIEFF No one will come in.

NINA I know your mother is here. Lock the door.

TREPLIEFF locks the door on the right and comes back to NINA.

TREPLIEFF There is no lock on that one. I shall put a chair against it. [He puts an arm-chair against the door] Don't be frightened, no one shall come in.

NINA [Gazing intently into his face] Let me look at you. [She looks about her] It is warm and comfortable in here. This used to be a sitting-room. Have I changed much?

TREPLIEFF Yes, you have grown thinner, and your eyes are larger than they were. Nina, it seems so strange to see you! Why didn't you let me go to you? Why didn't you come sooner to me? You have been here nearly a week, I know. I have been several times each day to where you live, and have stood like a beggar beneath your window.

NINA I was afraid you might hate me. I dream every night that you look at me without recognising me. I have been wandering about on the shores of the lake ever since I came back. I have often been near your house, but I have never had the courage to come in. Let us sit down. [They sit down] Let us sit down and talk our hearts out. It is so quiet and warm in here. Do you hear the wind whistling outside? As Turgenieff says, "Happy is he who can sit at night under the roof of his home, who has a warm corner in which to take refuge." I am a sea-gull--and yet--no. [She passes her hand across her forehead] What was I saying? Oh, yes, Turgenieff. He says, "and God help all houseless wanderers." [She sobs.]

TREPLIEFF Nina! You are crying again, Nina!

NINA It is all right. I shall feel better after this. I have not cried for two years. I went into the garden last night to see if our old theatre were still standing. I see it is. I wept there for the first time in two years, and my heart grew lighter, and my soul saw more clearly again. See, I am not crying now. [She takes his hand in hers] So you are an author now, and I am an actress. We have both been sucked into the whirlpool. My life used to be as happy as a child's; I used to wake singing in the morning; I loved you and dreamt of fame, and what is the reality? To-morrow morning early I must start for Eltz by train in a third-class carriage, with a lot of peasants, and at Eltz the educated trades-people will pursue me with compliments. It is a rough life.

TREPLIEFF Why are you going to Eltz?

NINA I have accepted an engagement there for the winter. It is time for me to go.

TREPLIEFF Nina, I have cursed you, and hated you, and torn up your photograph, and yet I have known every minute of my life that my heart and soul were yours for ever. To cease from loving you is beyond my power. I have suffered continually from the time I lost you and began to write, and my life has been almost unendurable. My youth was suddenly plucked from me then, and I seem now to have lived in this world for ninety years. I have called out to you, I have kissed the ground you walked on, wherever I looked I have seen your face before my eyes, and the smile that had illumined for me the best years of my life.

NINA [Despairingly] Why, why does he talk to me like this?

TREPLIEFF I am quite alone, unwarmed by any attachment. I am as cold as if I were living in a cave. Whatever I write is dry and gloomy and harsh. Stay here, Nina, I beseech you, or else let me go away with you.

NINA quickly puts on her coat and hat.

TREPLIEFF Nina, why do you do that? For God's sake, Nina! [He watches her as she dresses. A pause.]

NINA My carriage is at the gate. Do not come out to see me off. I shall find the way alone. [Weeping] Let me have some water.

TREPLIEFF hands her a glass of water.

TREPLIEFF Where are you going?

NINA Back to the village. Is your mother here?

TREPLIEFF Yes, my uncle fell ill on Thursday, and we telegraphed for her to come.

NINA Why do you say that you have kissed the ground I walked on? You should kill me rather. [She bends over the table] I am so tired. If I could only rest--rest. [She raises her head] I am a sea-gull--no--no, I am an actress. [She hears ARKADINA and TRIGORIN laughing in the distance, runs to the door on the left and looks through the keyhole] He is there too. [She goes back to TREPLIEFF] Ah, well--no matter. He does not believe in the theatre; he used to laugh at my dreams, so that little by little I became down-hearted and ceased to believe in it too. Then came all the cares of love, the continual anxiety about my little one, so that I soon grew trivial and spiritless, and played my parts without meaning. 1 never knew what to do with my hands, and I could not walk properly or control my voice. You cannot imagine the state of mind of one who knows as he goes through a play how terribly badly he is acting. I am a sea-gull--no--no, that is not wha t I meant to say. Do you remember how you shot a seagull once? A man chanced to pass that way and destroyed it out of idleness. That is an idea for a short story, but it is not what I meant to say. [She passes her hand across her forehead] What was I saying? Oh, yes, the stage. I have changed now. Now I am a real actress. I act with joy, with exaltation, I am intoxicated by it, and feel that I am superb. I have been walking and walking, and thinking and thinking, ever since I have been here, and I feel the strength of my spirit growing in me every day. I know now, I understand at last, Constantine, that for us, whether we write or act, it is not the honour and glory of which I have dreamt that is important, it is the strength to endure. One must know how to bear one's cross, and one must have faith. I believe, and so do not suffer so much, and when I think of my calling I do not fear life.

TREPLIEFF [Sadly] You have found your way, you know where you are going, but I am still groping in a chaos of phantoms and dreams, not knowing whom and what end I am serving by it all. I do not believe in anything, and I do not know what my calling is.

NINA [Listening] Hush! I must go. Good-bye. When I have become a famous actress you must come and see me. Will you promise to come? But now-- [She takes his hand] it is late. I can hardly stand. I am fainting. I am hungry.

TREPLIEFF Stay, and let me bring you some supper.

NINA No, no--and don't come out, I can find the way alone. My carriage is not far away. So she brought him back with her? However, what difference can that make to me? Don't tell Trigorin anything when you see him. I love him--I love him even more than I used to. It is an idea for a short story. I love him--I love him passionately--I love him to despair. Have you forgotten, Constantine, how pleasant the old times were? What a gay, bright, gentle, pure life we led? How a feeling as sweet and tender as a flower blossomed in our hearts? Do you remember, [She recites] "All men and beasts, lions, eagles, and quails, horned stags, geese, spiders, silent fish that inhabit the waves, starfish from the sea, and creatures invisible to the eye--in one word, life--all, all life, completing the dreary round set before it, has died out at last. A thousand years have passed since the earth last bore a living creature on its breast, and the unhappy moon now lights her lamp in vain. No longer are the cries of storks heard in the meadows, or the drone of beetles in the groves of limes----"

She embraces TREPLIEFF impetuously and runs out onto the terrace.

TREPLIEFF [After a pause] It would be a pity if she were seen in the garden. My mother would be distressed.

He stands for several minutes tearing up his manuscripts and throwing them under the table, then unlocks the door on the right and goes out.

DORN [Trying to force open the door on the left] Odd! This door seems to be locked. [He comes in and puts the chair back in its former place] This is like a hurdle race.

ARKADINA and PAULINA come in, followed by JACOB carrying some bottles; then come MASHA, SHAMRAEFF, and TRIGORIN.

ARKADINA Put the claret and the beer here, on the table, so that we can drink while we are playing. Sit down, friends.

PAULINA And bring the tea at once.

She lights the candles and takes her seat at the card-table. SHAMRAEFF leads TRIGORIN to the cupboard.

SHAMRAEFF Here is the stuffed sea-gull I was telling you about. [He takes the sea-gull out of the cupboard] You told me to have it done.

TRIGORIN [looking at the bird] I don't remember a thing about it, not a thing. [A shot is heard. Every one jumps.]

ARKADINA [Frightened] What was that?

DORN Nothing at all; probably one of my medicine bottles has blown up. Don't worry. [He goes out through the door on the right, and comes back in a few moments] It is as I thought, a flask of ether has exploded. [He sings] "Spellbound once more I stand before thee."

ARKADINA [Sitting down at the table] Heavens! I was really frightened. That noise reminded me of-- [She covers her face with her hands] Everything is black before my eyes.

DORN [Looking through the pages of a magazine, to TRIGORIN] There was an article from America in this magazine about two months ago that I wanted to ask you about, among other things. [He leads TRIGORIN to the front of the stage] I am very much interested in this question. [He lowers his voice and whispers] You must take Madame Arkadina away from here; what I wanted to say was, that Constantine has shot himself.

The curtain falls.

relations :


            [A Wealthy Countess in Yaroslavl] 
              |                                                         | 
 estranged  nephew                estranged niece 
              |                                                         | 
GAEV  (51) <-----siblings----> MADAME RANEVSKAYA <------neighbors-------> LOPAHIN 
(Leonid Andreyevich)           (Lyubov Andreyevna)                (Yermolay Alexeyevitch) 
                                                                        |                                        a   merchant 
                                                                        |                    <-----he proposes to lease 
                                                                        |                            Ranevskaya's property to 
                                                                        |                            build summer rental villas 
                                                    her three children: 
                                                                        | 
  
                        *    VARYA (24) her adopted daughter, who yearns to marry the merchant, Lopahin 
                        *    ANYA (17) her birth daughter 
                        *    [GRISHA] (perhaps 9) her son who drowned as a child, five years ago 
  

TROFIMOV, a perpetual student, formerly tutor to the dead Grisha 
(Pytor Sergeyevitch) 

SEMYONOV-PISHTCHIK, a landowner in some financial distress 

EPIHODOV  <-----------------------------proposes to------------------------>  DUNYASHA 
a clumsy accident-prone                                                                         a maid 
demi-suicidal clerk, beset with misadventures                                    attracted to the 
(Semyon Pantalayevitch)                                                                        valet, Yasha 

CHARLOTTA, a governess and amateur magician, daughter of street performers 

FIRS (87), a protocol-sensitive valet                     YASHA, a younger valet 

VAGRANT                                                                 STATIONMASTER 

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